Iowa Personal Injury Overview
Personal injury law covers physical, emotional, and financial injury. Common examples are lawsuits arising from medical malpractice, slip and fall, property damage, work-related injuries, and, of course, auto accidents. These are just a few of the types of cases which fall under personal injury.
Every state has unique laws regarding personal injury cases. Even though the basic principles are the same in every state, the nuances can make or break your case. Important aspects, such as time limits for filing a lawsuit, can vary greatly.
If you are injured in Iowa you may be entitled to compensation for you losses including:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- Emotional distress
- Interference with you family relationships
- Property damage, including damage to your vehicle in an auto accident
- Other expenses caused by your injury
Punitive damages are assessed to punish the responsible party rather than to compensate the injured for their losses. As in most states, punitive damages are only available in Iowa, if you can show that the responsible party acted in willful and wanton disregard of the safety of others. One of Iowa’s more unusual personal injury laws is the relegation of 75% of punitive damages to the state.
Multiple responsible parties
Very often, there will be more than one person responsible for your injuries. In some states you must collect your compensation from each defendant according to their share of the blame, and that can mean that you never see all of the money to which you are entitled. However, Iowa follows the rule of joint and several liability which holds each party responsible for the entire amount. So, if one party is unable to pay, you can collect their share from the other party or parties.
Iowa uses the doctrine of “modified comparative negligence.” This means that you may be entitled to compensation, even if you were partly to blame for your injuries. You must be less than 50% responsible in or to be entitled to compensation.
In most types of personal injury, you must prove negligence in order to prove fault. Negligence is the failure to use reasonable care and includes these elements:
- The person who caused your injuries owed you a duty
- The person failed to uphold their duty, causing your injuries
- You suffered damages
If your injuries were caused by a defective product, then you would need to prove strict liability instead of negligence. Under strict liability you must prove that you used the product as it was intended to be used, but due to its defective nature, you were still harmed by the product.
Time limit for filing a personal injury lawsuit
There is a time limit for virtually every type of legal action in every state. That time limit is called the statute of limitations. If you let that time run out, you give up your right to compensation, regardless of how much you deserve it.
The standard statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits in Iowa is two years, but the rules for when the time limit begins and how the time is calculated can be complicated, depending on the type of injury and the status of the injured person.
For more in depth information about time limits in Iowa read our Iowa Statute of Limitations page.
Personal injury laws vary from state to state. If you believe you have a personal injury claim and you live in Iowa, please contact one of our Iowa personal injury lawyers for a free claim evaluation.